By TIM ROWDEN
This year’s Greater St. Louis United Way fund raising campaign hit and exceeded its target, thanks in large part to the contributions of Labor, which rallied with St. Louis businesses and residents to raise the most ever in the agency’s history.
“Our goal was $74,250,000 and we raised $74,352,108,” said Roz Sherman-Voellinger, labor liaison for the United Way.
As a result, more families will keep a roof over their heads, more kids will go to bed with full stomachs, and more people will find the help they need, said Orvin Kimbrough, president and CEO of the United Way of Greater St. Louis.
“Our region’s Labor community is an essential element in helping local people through United Way,” Kimbrough said. “This decades-long partnership led to the success of this year’s fundraising campaign, raising the most money ever to help people in our region live their best possible lives. The commitment that our Labor leaders display, including reaching out to fellow union members at corporations and the community at large, is just one example of the dedicated partnership that United Way and our Labor community has for the health and success of our neighbors. Thank you once again for your support.”
HOW LABOR GIVES
Labor raises money for the campaign in two ways:
- Thousands of union members generously contribute through their workplace campaigns at employers such as Ameren, Laclede Gas, AT&T, General Motors, U.S. Steel and Schnucks.
“We don’t have a solid figure for the money raised by union members through their workplace contributions because many companies don’t keep that data,” Sherman-Voellinger said. “We know, however, it’s a very substantial amount!”
- Donations from union treasuries, union staff and leadership, and friends of Labor such as labor law firms, the Labor Tribune, and financial and health providers.
“This year we expect to raise more than $175,000 Labor dollars from Missouri and Illinois from 100 Labor accounts when all the dollars are in,” Sherman-Voellinger said.
That figure includes the $25,000 the United Way expects to raise from the Labor Trap Shoot on April 8, 2016. This will be a new record for Labor contributions.
Sherman-Voellinger said much credit is due to the leadership of Labor Chair Pat White, president of the Greater St. Louis Labor Council and Union Headquarters Chair Dave Cook, president of UFCW Local 655. Both served on the United Way Campaign Cabinet and were very actively involved in all aspects of the campaign, Sherman-Voellinger said.
‘OUT OF THE BALLPARK’
Labor Headquarters alone on the Missouri side of our region raised about $120,000, exceeding its goal by about 20 percent, with 14 additional unions contributing to the campaign this year that didn’t participate last year. “We hit it out of the ballpark,” Cook said.
And remember, that’s just donations from union treasuries and office staff. It doesn't include the individual contributions of union members who contributed through their paychecks; those contributions are tagged under the individual employers.
“The United Way in their announcing the final results, gave Labor credit for their total involvement,” White said. “They realize, and recognized in their speeches, that it’s union members in all these companies that helped drive the goal victory.”
LABOR/UNITED WAY PARTNERSHIP
United Way and Organized Labor share a history of partnership dating back to World War II. Helping to build a healthier community is a union tradition, and it’s the mission of United Way.
But even at that, St. Louis has a unique relationship with the United Way.
Five union members are employed as Labor liaisons at United Way of Greater St. Louis. Labor leaders also serve on the United Way executive board, regional auxiliary boards and allocation committees and coordinate community service projects and volunteer at United Way agencies.
United Way Labor liaisons help out-of-work union members and their families in times of need by utilizing the Labor Council’s “$5 for the Fight Fund” to which union members contribute.
United Way 2015 campaign co-chairs Suzanne Sitherwood, CEO of the Laclede Group and Sue McCollum, chairman and CEO of Major Brands, Inc., expressed their gratitude for all who contributed.
“I’m grateful to have worked alongside so many generous people in the St. Louis region this year to raise the most money ever in United Way’s history,” said Sitherwood. “The theme for our victory celebration this year is ‘it’s all about you’ – and that’s exactly what today is about – celebrating the impact local people have made toward helping their neighbors to live their best possible lives.”
McCollum added, “Reaching this year’s goal was a collective effort for our entire region. Everyone on both sides of the river – from labor unions, to companies and individuals – understand that our region is a better place for us all when we work together. Thank you to everyone who donated, volunteered and supported United Way this year. We’re thankful for your commitment to helping people in our region.”
If you haven’t yet made a contribution, it’s not too late to give.
To make a donation or to schedule a United Way Labor Liaison to speak at your union meeting or workplace, call Sherman-Voellinger at 314-539-4193. Donations may be mailed to: United Way of Greater St. Louis, Attn: LABOR DEPT., 910 North 11th St. , St. Louis, MO 63101. For more information about United Way visit stl.unitedway.org